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Longwood school district residents prep for $39M bond vote

Longwood schools Superintendent Michael R. Lonergan, seen here

Longwood schools Superintendent Michael R. Lonergan, seen here on May 30, 2013, says a $39.1 million bond proposition is an investment in the district. Credit: Ed Betz

Longwood school district residents will vote next month on a $39.1 million bond proposition to build a new administration building and make improvements to classrooms and athletic facilities.

District officials said the project would raise taxes 0.7 percent — or $43 per year for the average home assessed at $2,280. Officials expect to spend $8 million from a reserve fund and receive about $19 million in state aid for the project.

“We’re trying to let our community know that strong investment . . . only benefits us,” Superintendent Michael Lonergan said in an interview last week. “We have a very good physical plant that will really rise to the level of being excellent.”

Voting is scheduled from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 17 at Coram, West Middle Island, Ridge and Charles E. Walters elementary schools.

Each of the district’s seven schools will see improvements such as new windows, heating and cooling systems, parking lots, gymnasiums, playgrounds and roofs, officials said.

A new laboratory for science, technology, engineering, arts and math — or STEAM — programs would be added at Longwood Middle School to replace an antiquated planetarium, officials said. District officials said they are working with Brookhaven National Laboratory staff to design the lab.

Lonergan said construction is necessary to bring district facilities up to code and improve safety for students and staff.

The new administration building would consolidate staff who now work in three office buildings — including a converted trailer — and schools throughout the district, Lonergan said. Moving offices out of schools will free up about 5,000 square feet of classroom space for expected enrollment increases in coming years, he added.

Longwood serves 9,300 students in a sprawling district that covers 53 square miles in Yaphank, Middle Island, Ridge, Coram and parts of Shirley, Medford, Upton and Shoreham.

School board president Frank Muraca said district officials had vowed decades ago not to let district facilities deteriorate.

“We’re supporting what basically older boards did in the 1980s,” Muraca said. “This is a way for us to provide the stabilization that taxpayers look forward to in this district.”

He added that the district’s AA-plus bond rating and relatively low interest rates should help hold project costs down. Two other bonds from previous projects will be retired by 2021, officials said.

“We want to secure this project before the rates go any higher,” Muraca said.

District officials will discuss the bond proposal during a Sept. 28 public meeting at 7 p.m. at Longwood High School, 100 Longwood Rd. in Middle Island. Residents will be able to speak and ask questions, Lonergan said.

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